INDIANAPOLIS — 2021 is on pace to break the all-time record for homicides in Indianapolis of 245 murders. Most of that deadly violence has centered on the far east side, east side, and northeast side, as calculated by FOX59’s crime mapping project and confirmed by IMPD records.
Residents are often caught in the crosshairs of bullets, including a teenager this fall.
The threat is so high that this same teen would only go on camera with FOX59’s Beairshelle Edmé if his identity was concealed.
“I’m scared that somebody will see me and kill me that’s it basically — get shot, get shot again. I don’t want to get shot again,” the Indy youth said.
The teen boy admits his social media verbal fight went from gun emoji to gunfire.
“Once you got some beef or something — ain’t no squashing it or nothing,” he said. “Only way to not have no more beef is you move somewhere, move to another city or something — other than that you just have to worry about whatever — you got to watch your back 24/7.”
Asked if he thought gun violence would always be a part of his life, he answered, “Yeah!” He later pointed out that his goal is to grow old and bypass the streets and violence that he has associated with. He tells FOX59 his idea of growing old is his 40s; yet the common lifespan of an American is nearly twice that at 80. Given his environment and lifestyle, he doesn’t always envision that far into the future.
Indy teen, shooting victim talks access to guns
Many neighborhood youth think the same thing.
“You wonder sometimes how many of them are going to make it out,” said Georgina Leavell, a social worker with Stop The Violence Indianapolis.
Later, when asked about her phrasing being similar to warfare, she answered it absolutely is that way for Indianapolis youth.
Stop the Violence Indianapolis social worker: ‘They don’t care who they shoot … who they kill’
One far east side mother of four tells FOX59 every day feels like survival mode for her kids.
“I think it’s gotten worse. It’s changed for the worst,” explained Gabrielle Evans, 35. “It’s scary just because I don’t want to have to worry about my children when they leave.”
As Edmé talked with other longtime far eastsiders at their homes, each shared the same fear: a bullet, a death sentence.
“At night you can hear the shootings,” said Tony Howland, 65, who’s lived in a neighborhood near North Mitthoefer Road for more than 15 years. “I don’t feel that same sense of safety when we first moved out here.”
That’s a feeling echoed by Porshia Tapps, another far eastsider.
“It’s terrifying. It’s very terrifying (when) you get your kids ready to go to bed at night and everybody has to drop to the floor cause it’s just gunshots,” said Porshia Tapps, a far east side resident.
Henry Beaty, a 57-year-old also living in the far east side, told Edmé he too is scared.
These neighbors say they’re tired of bright caution tape, littered bullets, and body bags in their communities.
When asked if Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD are doing enough, Tapps paused to reflect on their performance.
After a moment, the Indy native answered, “I think they’re doing their jobs, but they’re not doing enough — most definitely not doing enough because, if they was, we wouldn’t have stuff going on every night.”
FOX59 requested an interview with the far east side and east side’s city-county councilor, La Keisha Jackson, about the increased deadly violence in her community.
“Can I totally prevent crime?” she asked. “That’s not my role. But can I be a voice and advocate? Yes ma’am! I can put the funding and resources where it needs to be.”
The Indianapolis councilwoman not only represents this neighborhood, but also lives there. She’s no stranger to her residents feeling endangered and without help.
“Well, they should feel that way because (resources) has not been in this area, the far east side, for years, but 2022 will be different,” Jackson promised.
The far east side native believes a new, citywide plan she backed will be a turning point. It includes $45 million dollars in crime prevention funding, among other things.
Stop The Violence Indianapolis is one local organization that’s received city grants previously.
The organization’s dedicated social worker says she has never seen gun violence this bad, also noting the last time she remembers truly feeling safe in the city was when she first moved here in the 70s.
She finds the consequences of this record-breaking violence are generational, irreversible trauma.
Residents FOX59 talked to don’t have all the answers to end gun violence, but they have ideas.
“I only want kids in our community to prosper and to have dreams and live their dreams,” Evans said.
Some neighbors tell FOX59 a community-focused and community-led investment must happen. They also believe far east side and east side business development, job opportunities, and more family support will help end this violent trend.
It’s a future they want to build now so fewer Indianapolis youth are introduced to bullets before books.